commonwealth of virginia, community development, economic development

 Volume 03 • Issue 10 May 10, 2004 






Step up to Flex



One "flex" car takes a half dozen other autos off the roads. That's why Arlington County supports car sharing as part of its strategy for dealing with traffic congestion.



to our eLetter



About Bacon's Rebellion


Bacon's Rebellion is an electronic op-ed page for Virginia's new economy. We write about govern-

ment, public policy, economic development and community


Read more about us.


Read about our columnists.



Free e-letter: Virginia business intelligence



 Side Up

The serial optimists at The Egg Factory are developing "transformational" products - from video-enabled floor mats to an anti-kidnap solution - each with $1 billion or more in market potential.

Read more of the current issue...



Our Sponsors:


E-mail management services


Our Partners:


Virginia FREE:

Protecting Virginia's

business environment



Hampton Roads Technology Council



Virginia Technology Alliance



Breaking political




Interactive CD-ROMs, marketing audits


commonwealth of virginia, community development, economic development

Web design



Web Application Development





Arlington County is embracing flex cars: vehicles that subscribers can reserve by the hour and drive when they need one instead of hassling with owning and maintaining their own. The county has turned over premium parking spaces near Metro stops in the Ballston-Rosslyn Corridor to two car-sharing car operators, and is subsidizing the services to spur local residents to sign up for them.

Judging by raw numbers alone, the flex car initiative will barely dent Northern Virginia’s massive traffic congestion problem. Heck, it probably won’t even make a perceptible ding.

The pilot project will increase the number of “self-service cars” to 20. Even the most zealous advocates of the concept acknowledge that putting one shared car on the streets takes only four to eight regular cars off. That rule of thumb translates into 80 to 160 fewer cars in a county of 190,000 inhabitants and a region of two million. Fast-growing Northern Virginia undoubtedly adds that many new cars to the transportation system every day.

But the significance of Arlington’s flex-car initiative is far greater than the paltry numbers would indicate. For starters, it’s only a pilot project. If the program proves successful, Arlington will expand it. But it also drives home a crucial lesson about the economics of mobility.

                                                     More >>


Koelemay's Kosmos

Education Wins!


The Commonwealth's new budget puts the priority right where Virginians say it should be.


Contrary to political pundits who measure results only in terms of which political leaders or what philosophy seemed to have prevailed in the Richmond , education is the real winner in the budget just passed by the General Assembly. That means legislators and Gov. Mark R. Warner have succeeded in putting education first, which is where both the general public and the overwhelming majority of elected officials always have said it should be.


The education budget numbers that emerge from the work of the General Assembly in special session are impressive. Start with $759 million more for K-12 public education over the next two years. This increase over and above that proposed by Gov. Warner in December will allow Virginia for the first time to meet its responsibilities to fund Standards of Quality practices its state Board of Education recommends but local school divisions now fund themselves.


The result will be more and better trained teachers, a broader effort to get at-risk four-year-olds into Head Start programs, stronger English as a second language programs, even close to full state funding for students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, the highly-honored and nationally-emulated Governor’s School in Northern Virginia. The increase also will allow the state to shelve the accounting practices that fiddle federal and local revenues to make the state share look more robust. And it gets the education discussion back on educational goals and objectives and off the destructive budget blame game of who hasn’t paid which part of whose responsibilities.

                                                               More >>


Sponsored Content

Workforce Wizardry

Chmura Economics & Analytics has developed a Virginia labor-market database with extraordinary powers. Subscribers can conjure sophisticated analysis with a few clicks of a mouse.

Down in Southwest Virginia not long ago, an unemployed worker filed with a local "one stop" employment center and applied for training as a truck driver. A local administrator turned him down on the grounds that there was little demand locally for truckers. But someone deep within the bowels of the Virginia workforce bureaucracy thought otherwise.

In the old days, there would have been no easy way to settle that dispute. But the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) of far Southwest Virginia had access to JobsEQ, a labor-market database, which allowed its analysts to drill deeper into local workforce data than, literally, anyone else in the country.

"We looked at it and found out that there were 20 percent more unemployed truck drivers [in this region] than there were employed truck drivers," recounts George Hunicutt Jr., vice chair of the WIB. "There was an oversupply. It didn't make sense to train any more truck drivers." Case closed. More.

Patrick McSweeney

Can the Republicans Regroup?

Ridden with dissension after the 2004 budget debate, Republican legislators may be licking their self-inflicted wounds for a long time.


There is no way to avoid the conclusion that, even as Republican leaders in the House of Delegates voted against the $1 billion tax increase last Tuesday, they actually helped to secure its passage.


House Speaker William Howell and House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith made one decision after another that facilitated tax bills they publicly proclaimed to oppose. On the very day the package of tax and related measures was approved by the House, Howell sent one of the bills to a House committee likely to report the bill to the floor rather than to a committee likely to kill it. He also had every justification to make a ruling that would have blocked another bill in the package, but chose to bring it to a vote.

                                                    More >>


Patrick McSweeney

They're Baaaackk!


Now they want higher taxes for roads -- subsidies for an inefficient transportation system that has become too expensive to support.


Here we go again!


A number of members of the Virginia General Assembly have suggested yet another special session to consider a tax increase, this time for transportation.  Here is further evidence that the only sure result of a tax increase is pressure for even more tax increases.


There has been much hand-wringing by Gov. Mark R. Warner and pro-tax legislators over the status of Virginia’s credit rating. After decades of having the highest rating, Virginia shouldn’t risk losing it, these officials insist, if only because it is an important psychological barrier.


Virginia’s AAA credit rating is not the only psychological barrier to be concerned about. The traditional legislative inhibition to raise taxes in response to constant demands for more funding is another, perhaps more important one. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to maintain the highest credit rating without a strong inhibition against raising taxes.

                                             More >>


The Shape of the Future

Were they Listening?
Or Was it Just Luck?


Nah, they weren't listening. Still, the inability of the General Assembly to raise taxes for transportation gives Virginia one more chance to get things right.


Virginia's tax reform/budget nightmare is over for two years. It is time to get up and get to work.

For now, there will be more money for the functions of government in the Commonwealth. There are, however, no Fundamental Changes to make education, safety and security, health care and other responsibilities of government more efficient or effective.

In mobility and access (aka, transportation), there is some good news! Without new money for more transport facilities, citizens have the leverage to implement the changes in human settlement pattern necessary to secure mobility and access. For years, it has been obvious that without Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns, building more facilities just makes transport more dysfunctional.


Now is the time to step forward to insure that the right development is carried out in the right places:

                                                   More >>


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Double Take


Excuse me, what just happened? The Republican  legislature finally passed a budget but I'm getting cross-eyed trying to figure out what they did and why.


Let’s see…


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature for a billion dollars in new revenue and the Republican legislature said, "No, that’s not enough" — and gave him more. 


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to keep its word and finally end the car tax and the Republican legislature said, "No," and re-imposed, in the out years to come, a good half of it.


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to end the estate tax for millionaires and the Republican legislature said, "No, let’s keep it."


The Democratic governor asked the Republican legislature to kill him politically for breaking his "‘I won’t raise taxes" word and the Republican legislature said, "No, we’ll raise them for you, we’ll take that beating, and make you a national figure."


What is this? The Twilight Zone? What?  

                                                   More >>


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Common Sense


The best thing coming out the 2004 General Assembly was the cap on  car tax relief -- a subsidy for inefficient local government and a running sore on state finances.


If the 2004 edition of the Virginia General Assembly did nothing more than cap the car tax reimbursement to local governments in Virginia at $950 million annually, it would have been a good year for legislative common sense, even with the clock still running -- at day 117, and counting.


Of course, the legislature accomplished quite a bit more than this, but this action is the single most significant component of a compromise agreement that has generally torn asunder alliances previously thought to be unassailable.


The idea that the state could, and would, reimburse boards of supervisors, and town and city councils for the local taxes they raised on personal automobiles was a cockamammied one from the beginning — unless you were Jim Gilmore, who saw it as a way to the governorship, fiscal consequences, and fairness, be damned.

                                                        More >>


Guest Columnist: Jason Sajko

Embracing Technology


Virginia has moved to the forefront of implementing information technology to cut costs and increase effectiveness of state government.


State and local government spending has experienced historic turbulence over the past three years. Fiscal year 2003 saw the largest gap between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and tax revenues in over 30 years, indicating a disparity in available state funding. Despite projected growth with the current economic recovery, states are being forced to rethink their organizations, tools, and policies in an attempt to maintain and initiate information technology (IT) projects that were squeezed out by past budget shortfalls.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has established itself at the forefront of state IT practices. In this analysis, INPUT reviews Virginia’s recent IT initiatives to consolidate their IT functions, establish e-procurement tools, and implement progressive policy changes.

Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)

In May of 2003, Gov. Mark R. Warner signed two bills that together dissolved the Department of Technology Planning, the Department of Information Technology, the Virginia Information Providers Network Authority, the Board of the Virginia Information Providers Network Authority, and the Chief Information Officer Advisory Board. The signed legislation combined the roles and responsibilities of these agencies and boards into the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. 
                                                         More >>


Guest Columnist: James Atticus Bowden

Well, Bless Their Hearts


Today's Methodists have lost their way. Jim Bowden's mother, if she were around, would set them straight.

This Mother’s Day I wonder what my Mother, Edith Henderson Bowden (1918-1986), would say about her beloved Methodist Church. She might say, “Methodists? Well bless their hearts, too many of them are lost.” Her look -- ‘The Look’ -- would speak more. Anytime a Southerner says, “Well, bless his heart”, substitute the words “That stupid idiot.” Or stronger words. 


Actually, the sissy Christian Methodists should thank the cross-dressing, inclusive Goddess of their imaging that my Mother isn’t around today. She would loom over them – at five foot four – and with that pointed finger raised and aimed, Mama would’ve set them straight. The apologists for the holiness of anal sex, would learn a new meaning for ‘fear of the Lord’ and she would’ve never raised her voice.


Of course, her Methodist worldview wasn’t the wimpy, weak, watered-down Christianity of half the church today. I teased her on her death bed that she was the re-incarnation of Jean Calvin. She laughed and said, “Well, bless your heart.”

                                                             More >>


Bacon's Rebellion

 The Op-Ed Page for Virginia's New Economy.

 Public Policy, Economic Development and Community Revitalization.

Contact information:

Phone: (804) 873-1543


Jim Bacon, an insurrectionary with a pen and a keyboard, applies his critical eye to government, public policy, economic development and community revitalization in Virginia.

Bring Home the Bacon

Help   About search


In This Issue...




Koelemay's Kosmos:

Education Wins!


Sponsored Content: Workforce Wizardry


Patrick McSweeney: Can the Republicans Regroup?


Patrick McSweeney: They're Baaaackk!


The Shape of the Future: Were They Listening? Or Was it Just Luck?


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:

Double Take


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:

Common Sense


Jason Sajko: Embracing Technology


Guest Columnist James Atticus Bowden: Well, Bless Their Hearts




Virginia Pundit Watch


Nice & Curious Questions: Happy Trailer Homes to You


On the Web





Virginia Pundit Watch


by Will Vehrs


Virginia’s Budget: Historic and Trend-Setting


The early pundit reactions to Virginia’s budget deal are in. The budget adopted Friday represented a potentially historic political shift away from anti-tax sentiment. Other states may soon follow Virginia’s model, representing a new attitude toward financing government functions. 


Of course, in a few weeks other pundits will tell us the deal was aberration and other states will reject the new taxes that Virginia legislators accepted.


Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, perhaps too wistfully, compared the 2004 deal to the 1954 budget deal that demonstrated the first cracks in Byrd machine that had dominated Virginia politics for generations. He speculated that this budget deal might mark the decline of anti-tax forces.






Nice & Curious Questions


by Edwin S. Clay III and Patricia Bangs


Happy Trailer Homes

to You


In the trade they are known as “manufactured housing,” although their residents prefer the term “mobile homes.” You may remember that on the TV show “The Rockford Files,” James Garner’s character lived in one with his dad. As of 2000, Virginia boasted more than 185,000 single, double, triple-wide or larger units on private property and in parks throughout the state – 6.4 percent of the total housing in the Commonwealth. They are so popular in some rural areas that Patrick County author Martin Clark, a circuit court judge, titled his 2000 comic legal thriller The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living. “I have a rooster, a pickup truck, a fly rod and a lawn tractor,” Clark said in an interview for the paperback publication of his novel. It touched a nationwide chord and became a New York Times Notable Book. More.




Building a Better

 Richmond Region


May 17, 2004: Presented by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Building a Better Richmond Region conference will present tools help elected officials, businesses, and residents in making better land use decisions.

The conference brings internationally known planners and architects Andrés Duany and Anton Nelessen to the Greater Richmond Convention Center for a day-long discussion of the tenets of New Urbanism, smart growth, and the local ordinances that are required to create opportunities for great developments and communities to emerge.


Building a Better Richmond Region will provide a unique and important opportunity for business, civic, and political leaders of our region to learn of some of the specific tools needed to build better communities right here in Central Virginia. From the rural edges to the urban core, this conference will benefit all participants and create an immediate impact on our region.




On the Web...


"Creative Class" guru Richard Florida responds to his critics. Read his article, "Revenge of the Squelchers," in The Next American City magazine.


Also worth reading in The Next American City is an article about the competition between cities for affluent residents. See "The Race for Residents: D.C. and Baltimore Go Head to Head."



States' expectations for high school graduation remain largely disconnected from the real-world demands graduates face in postsecondary education and in high-growth, high-performance jobs. This gap could cripple a wave of high school reform growing nationally, argues a new publication from The American Diploma Project. See the executive summary of "Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts."



© Copyright 2004 Bacon's Rebellion. All rights reserved.